For many business owners, the lead-up to the holidays is jackpot time. It’s when we are the busiest, cranking through everything that our customers need. We’re on turbo-drive and it feels good.
More from TODAY.com
‘Good job, teach’: Educators emerge as heroes in Oklahoma
- 4th-grader: Teacher threw herself over us, 'saved our lives'
- Crews comb Okla. rubble for survivors, victims
- Reporter tells of 'hysterical' parents at devastated school
- How to help Oklahoma tornado victims
- ‘Good job, teach’: Educators emerge as heroes in Oklahoma
Then boom. The holidays hit, and the world suddenly stops. Most people see this as a relief, a time to unplug, have a few cookies and turn off the computer for a few weeks.
Not entrepreneurs. There’s a hidden opportunity during this holiday lull, a time to be the most productive you’ve been all year.
While others drink eggnog, you could be doing something that will set you up for success next year, something you rarely have time for.
Spend some real time getting to know your customers better.
As the rest of the world settles down for a long winter's nap, entrepreneurs have an opportunity to spend time plugging into their customers. But it isn't a time to focus on the business. It’s a time to learn about your customer’s lives -- stresses, happiness, worries, hobbies, families -- anything really important to them.
Figure out what motivates your key audience. Listen to what is going on in their lives, so that you can figure out how your product fits in and where you can add value.
This advice might sound obvious, but be honest: How well do you really know your customers?
You can try getting to know them the old-fashioned way, in person or on the phone, but social media has opened up a whole new, more productive way. As one of the biggest advancements in market research and relationship marketing in decades, social media allows us to get to know our customers like never before, and observe how they are living. Actually, we can do more than just observe, we can live right beside them.
Social media gives entrepreneurs a window into what our customers are thinking, feeling, and doing, an inside window to discover ways that we can help them. That’s where the productive part comes in: creating ways to help customers.
Figuring out how to help your customers will grow your business. By understanding their needs, you can transform your business to suit them, not you, and you will flourish.
This inside knowledge doesn’t automatically translate to sales. It’s what you do with it that makes a difference. This information must create an emotional benefit for your customers. Not just the functioning of your business, but a real emotional connection with your customers.
By creating an emotional benefit you will do something magical: You will turn your business into a brand. You will create a brand that transcends your product and differentiates it from your competitors. You will transform your customers from needing your products to wanting your brand. That’s the power of an emotional connection: a brand that your customers will want over and over again, because they have an emotional attachment.
Because you understand them, you get them and you serve their needs not just functionally but emotionally . . . they will reward you for it.
Spend the holidays getting to know your customers and creating an emotional benefit. Then it will be the most wonderful time of the year.
Copyright © 2013 Entrepreneur.com, Inc.